It was an unusual scene for a library that sees its share of disturbances. Here’s what happened, according to a library incident report and an Asheville Police Department incident report:
About 6 p.m. on March 6, Catherine Shane asked Philip Banks and Fernando Espejo-Saaveda to be quiet so her friend could study. Banks suggested she and her friend go to a study area. The woman returned to where her friend was sitting.
“Mr. Espejo-Saaveda went over to them and yelled at the woman ‘little Hitler,'” the library report stated. “Ms. Shane put her hands on Mr. Espejo-Saaveda, who then struck her in the face. Much yelling ensued.”
The library’s director, Ed Sheary, banned Espejo-Saaveda from county libraries for a year.
Sheary said the incident was unusual, although there are about four or five incidents that library staff consider reportable each week and write up in incident reports. Most are of the “drunk and disorderly” type, Sheary said.
The library does not have a hard and fast rule regarding quiet among the stacks. The rule boils down to: “are you interfering with the use of the library by others,” Sheary said. There’s a lot of contention around that rule, with some people seeing the library as an extension of Pritchard Park, while others view it more as a research library, Sheary said.
The library has dealt with unruly patrons for years, but physical changes to the building a few years back cut down on disruptive incidents, Sheary said. The library moved bathrooms to an outer hallway and did away with group seating. Now, the hottest area for disputes about quiet center on the computer area, where people sit together to use the library’s machines, he said.
Here’s the library’s incident report: